If you’ve googled this and landed on our page, we’re guessing it’s because you’re in a lot of pain or discomfort right now and looking for some relief for mastitis. We know from experience of treating patients with mastitis (and some of us have had personal experience of mastitis too!) that it can be rough to deal with, on top of everything else that a new baby brings. The short answer to your question is that yes, physiotherapy can help as part of an overall treatment plan, but it’s vital that you get the right supports around you to help you to recover as quick as possible. We’ll post some resources below for you, and if we can be of any help to you at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
What is Mastitis?
Mastitis most often happens in breastfeeding women. Symptoms can include pain, heat, redness, swelling and a lump in one breast. You may find that the breast is painful to touch and for baby to feed from. You may also get a high temperature and flu-like symptoms with mastitis. (Source: HSE)
What can I do to help Mastitis?
We recommend that you tackle mastitis in three ways:
- Contact a lactation consultant, who can provide advice on management of mastitis including positioning and latching for the baby. The HSE now has a service where you can chat to a lactation consultant online. Your public health nurse will also be able to put you in contact with a HSE lactation consultant. You can also contact a lactation consultant privately; the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland has a county-by-county directory here, or you can speak to a breastfeeding counsellor at Cuidiú or La Leche League.
- Contact your GP to see if you would benefit from antibiotics or other advice on pain relief.
- Contact your physiotherapist to see if they specialise in mastitis treatment. Leonora Kennedy here at Mid West Physiotherapy would be very happy to help you.
What can physiotherapy do to help mastitis?
Physiotherapy has been shown to help clear blocked milk ducts that do not respond to self-clearing methods. Physiotherapy for mastitis includes; ultrasound, gentle breast massage and manual lymphatic drainage of the lymph tissue around the breast and the armpit on the affected side. Physiotherapy has shown to reduce pain and difficulty with breastfeeding and improve confidence in women with mastitis (Cooper and Kowalsky, 2015). We also teach you how to massage the breast and the lymph area to help manage your symptoms and pain at home (Witt et al, 2016).
The HSE has created an excellent booklet for parents of infants aged 0-2, and breastfeeding is covered extensively within. Click here to download this booklet.
We’re Here to Help
If you would like to book an appointment with Leonora to treat mastitis, she would be delighted to help you. You can bring your baby along to your appointment (we love seeing little babies!) and you can feed as and when your baby needs.
You can book online here, or alternatively you can ring our Reception on 061-201444. Best wishes and we hope you feel better soon.
- Cusack, L. and Brennan, M., 2011. Lactational mastitis and breast abscess: diagnosis and management in general practice. Australian family physician, 40(12), pp.976-979.
- Angelopoulou, A., Field, D., Ryan, C.A., Stanton, C., Hill, C. and Ross, R.P., 2018. The microbiology and treatment of human mastitis. Medical microbiology and immunology, 207(2), pp.83-94.
- Cooper, B.B. and Kowalsky, D., 2015. Physical therapy intervention for treatment of blocked milk ducts in lactating women. Journal of women’s health physical therapy, 39(3), pp.115-126.
- Lavigne, V. and Gleberzon, B.J., 2012. Ultrasound as a treatment of mammary blocked duct among 25 postpartum lactating women: a retrospective case series. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 11(3), pp.170-178.
- Witt, A.M., Bolman, M., Kredit, S. and Vanic, A., 2016. Therapeutic breast massage in lactation for the management of engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis. Journal of Human Lactation, 32(1), pp.123-131.